Often found growing next to poison ivy, this deciduous flowering vine has a native range that spans central and eastern North America from Mexico to southern Canada. Its compound leaves have five leaflets, as highlighted by the Latin species name with “quinque” meaning “five” and “folia” meaning “leaf.” Forked tendrils with adhesive pads allow this prolific woody vine to climb across floodplains, forests, and woodland edges, as well as up walls, trees, fences, and other smooth surfaces.
During the late summer and early autumn, Virginia creeper’s shiny green leaves change into a radiant red. Also during this time, its small, clustered flowers mature into hard, dark blue berries. Though toxic to humans, they are an essential source of food for songbirds, game birds, and small mammals during the late autumn and through winter. While it is an essential indigenous species to North America, hosting the Pandora sphinx moth caterpillar and Virginia creeper sphinx moth, its vigorous growth has made it an invasive species throughout the UK.